Albury put a week of uncertainty behind them to secure their place in the Southern Inland finals.
After initially having five points stripped from them on Monday, and then gaining three back on appeal for using an unregistered player, the Steamers just snuck into fourth after a 26-17 loss to Waratahs at Conolly Rugby Complex on Saturday.
The Border outfit needed a bonus point to secure their place in the top four but a late penalty try snuffed out that chance.
Instead they booked a place against Griffith next week on percentage, with Wagga City officially finishing 13 points adrift.
Coach Paul Musarra was pleased to stay in the title hunt, especially after it looked like they had booked their place last week.
"It's not the result we wanted but considering the week we've had to get within nine points I'm pretty happy," Musarra said.
Albury charged out of the blocks with Sam Allen opening the scoring after three minutes before the minor premiers worked their way into the clash.
After letting a good opportunity slip, and then being denied a try, Waratahs got on the board after 25 minutes as Nathanael Mooney scored a pushover try.
The Wagga's side scrum was dominant throughout the clash but it was hooker Jock Munro scoring out wide that gave them a 12-7 lead at half-time.
Waratahs extended their lead as Sam O'Leary forced his way over from close range before Albury got within two points with their season on the line.
A James Devlin penalty goal closed the gap before Liam Krautz was able to score following an Allen break to get them within bonus point territory.
However 'Tahs scrum dominance paid dividends with the late penalty try saw the Steamers leave empty handed.
The strength of the forward pack was one of the most pleasing things for co-coach Angus Stevenson.
"I thought the energy was good and the intent was there," Stevenson said.
"There's a few things to iron out, and it was a disjointed back line with a couple of guys out, but I think the forwards were phenomenal and the scrum was really strong.
"We just built off that."
They now take on Ag College for a place in the grand final.
They expect captain Tim Corcoran and Sam Bunny to come back into the side however halfback Sam Hobbs came off late with a knee injury and Xavier Chigwidden didn't take part in the second half.
Meanwhile Albury has their season on the line up against a Griffith outfit coming into finals on the back of a loss.
The Blacks' comeback fell short at Leeton No.1 Oval on Saturday, as the Phantoms finished their season on a high to take a 31-29 victory over their closest rivals.